A Visit to the Ross County Airport

If you've driven south on State Route 104 some nights and seen a beacon light to the west of Deer Creek, that's the Ross County Airport. Our Kevin Coleman visited it with the Ross County Commissioners Monday.

Jim Parks says he has been the Airport Operator for 37 years. It serves only private aircraft, no airlines - though a Boeing 757 could land there. He said the airport is a nice, standard, safe facility. A brief tour showed an immaculate hangar and grounds.

Parks said he's been there since 1982, and took over in 1985. The airport was built in the 1960s when Governor Rhodes wanted an airport in every county. (Ross County had other airports like the one on the site of the Super K-Mart, now Rural King.)

It was quiet at noon when I was there, but he said that was after the usual morning rush hour. A Lear 75 jet was the only plane in sight, parked near the hangar, with windows and engines tarped.

Parks says it is the "most important mile of road in the county" - close it for repaving the runway, and find out how important it is. He mentioned how Kenworth had him reading off serial numbers on a row of truck components over the phone to identify which ones to ship out.

Parks said the Ross County Airport is funded 90% by the federal government, 5% by the state, and 5% by the county. But it's owned by the county, so he was discussing a possible new multipurpose building with the commissioners, and ways to bring in more non-flying public while keeping them safe.

He said an upcoming event will be a good way to get to know the place. An antique Ford Tri-Motor will be offering rides September 15 through the 18th.

Kevin Coleman covers local government and culture

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